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Mobile Ready Mix Among New Techniques for Today’s Contractor

Imagine finding a way to capture a bit more control in your business, while at the same time reducing costs. Impossible? Not with the advent of mobile ready mix. Learn how one CFA member has implemented such a process change and the overwhelming results.

The benefit is obvious – cost savings on concrete, no lost man-hours waiting for delivery, and elimination of concrete waste from ordering too much of the material – all a result of purchasing mobile mixing concrete trucks.

Modern Foundations — a residential service provider specializing in excavation, foundation, and flatwork services in the Baltimore and Washington D.C areas — implemented mobile ready mix in late July, beginning with four trucks and the production of about 80 to 130 yards of concrete a day. According to Bruce Neale, president of the $10 million company headquartered in Woodbine, Maryland, the idea stems from a single-family home project in Pennsylvania completed in the late 1980s.

“Mobile ready mix allows for the production only of what is needed and the concrete is always fresh,” said Neale. “Typically, we would have to wait for the inspector to approve the job, and then call the concrete company. Obviously, that scenario involves a lot of wasted time. With our own trucks, we are there waiting for the inspector to arrive. As soon as our work is approved, we can get started pouring concrete.”

To date, the mobile ready mix venture has been a success for Modern Foundations. Neale said they are currently producing 40 percent of their own concrete with the goal of producing 55 to 60 percent by next summer. It has been a profitable experience and they noticed results immediately.

“This has proven to me that we can successfully batch our own concrete and maximize our equipment usage,” said Neale. “We are able to send trucks out earlier and can adjust the slump as needed.”

However, as with any new operation, Neale’s team experienced some challenges initially. For example, the flatwork department had problems with the concrete creating a bleed order from setting too rapidly. Modern Foundations quickly determined that this problem was based on the type of cement they were using. After the cement was changed, this challenge was alleviated.

Neale anticipates that this winter will produce a new set of challenges for his team. “Our trucks do not have the opportunity to generate heat within the concrete like traditional barrel trucks do,” said Neale. “We are in the process of installing hot water heaters on the trucks and we will use different admixtures to help curb this problem.”

Recognizing the opportunities gained from this venture, Neale encourages other CFA members to determine if this would be a good fit for their company. He recommends ordering the concrete from someone who uses mobile trucks and investigating the maintenance of the truck from other users. Also, he explains that it is necessary to have a driver who is committed to the job, because the driver is the key to good concrete. Neale adds that for mobile ready mix to be profitable, 25 yards of concrete per day must be produced.

In addition to mobile ready mix, Modern Foundations has also implemented stone placement with truck-mounted conveyers. Referred to as ‘stone slinging,’ the new method entails the delivery of 20 tons of stone by a truck with a mounted conveyor. The process gets stone into the basement quicker, before the house is backfilled.

“We have been able to save on material losses, because every bit of stone gets in the basement and jobs can be completed quicker,” said Neale.

This zeal for innovation and technology is sure to be a benefit to CFA in 2003. As incoming President, Neale would like to strengthen CFA’s position as the voice of authority in the industry, to include participation and appearance by CFA members at code bodies. He also would like to grow the membership.

“I want to gain more quality contractors for the Association,” said Neale. “CFA should be a reliable source for builders, architects and engineers for information on residential concrete foundations. I want to use this knowledge and experience of members to help get proper codes in place.”

For more information about Modern Foundations, a CFA member since 1985, visit www.modernfoundations.com or contact Bruce Neale at 410-795-8877.

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Concrete FACTS, a publication of the Concrete Foundations Association, is THE voice for residential concrete industry news, market intelligence, business strategies, technical solutions, product information, and other resources for professionals in the cast-in-place concrete industry. Subscriptions to Concrete FACTS is available to anyone involved or interested in the residential concrete industry as a service to your industry. Please contact CFA Headquarters to find out more about your free subscription or Email Us